If you’re like many vet students, you’re struggling to stay above water under the weight of vet student debt.
Because while the cost of veterinary care is rising, the cost of vet school is rising just as fast.
Here’s what you need to know about financing your education–and how to take control of your debt.
Learn Your Financing Options
Veterinary school is a noble pursuit. It’s also expensive. No two ways around it. If you’re like most people, you don’t have that amount of money sitting around.
There are a few options to pay for veterinary school:
- Student loans
Scholarships and grants are helpful if you can get them because they don’t need to be repaid. And any drop in the bucket can help reduce your debt load later on.
The American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) has a scholarship page. You should also check out the Veterinary Medicine Repayment Program, a federal grant program that will pay up to $25,000 per year to pay off student loans if you agree to serve in a NIFA-designated veterinary shortage situation for three years after completing your program.
Let’s Talk About Student Loans
That helps matters immensely. But for everything else, you’re going to need student loans.
The problem, of course, is that many students have a rising debt load despite the fact that veterinary salaries have not kept pace with inflation.
So, it’s time to have a real talk about student loans.
The first thing to understand is that the more debt you have, the harder it is to pay off. So anything you can do to reduce your debt will benefit you later.
Investigate scholarships and grants and apply for anything you might possibly qualify for. Take paying part-time work in order to make small payments while you’re still in school. Take the time to evaluate whether a less expensive program will give you what you need.
And wherever you can, cut costs. Other than veterinary school, paying off your debt is your first priority.
With that in mind, let’s talk loans.
Student loans are unique in that they’re specifically designed for education funding. This means you can usually get them at lower interest rates than you would for another type of loan.
They’re also student-friendly since many students don’t have a credit history or high-paying jobs.
Some loans will also allow you to defer payment until you’re out of school. Keep in mind, however, that this saddles you with a greater debt load once you’re out of school.
How to Pay Off Your Debt
Paying off your debt isn’t going to be much fun, but it is possible.
The single best strategy to pay off your debts faster is to treat it like a fixed expense and pay more than the required minimum. Even a small amount over the minimum helps.
To do this, it helps to create a budget. You have to know exactly where every dollar is going in order to maximize the money you have, even if you don’t have much.
If you get any extra money (a bonus, a tax refund, etc.) don’t spend it. Put it towards paying off your debt. It’s not as much fun as a vacation, but you’ll be able to afford a proper vacation much sooner.
Taking Control of Vet Student Debt
Vet student debt can seem insurmountable, but it’s only as scary as you let it be.
You can dig yourself out from under debt. You just have to be patient and stay the course. You made it through veterinary school–the rest is just numbers.
If you’re looking to do something meaningful with your veterinary education, you can check out our veterinary missions to find out how you can contribute.